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Rethinking Science Education
May 4, 2009

By rethinking the way they teach science to students and the public, educators can re-frame sensitive topics such as evolution, according to a May 1 commentary in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The commentary was co-authored by Arri Eisen, director of the Emory College Program in Science and Society and a senior lecturer in biology, and David Westmoreland, a member of the Board of Directors of the Catamount Center for Geography of the Southern Rockies.

The authors note that the U.S. remains the center of creationist ideas and beliefs: 40 percent of its citizens still reject evolution and believe in creationism, and half believe that humans were created as we are today, with no evolutionary development.

“Courts and classrooms have served as the arenas for the battle between evolution and creationism since the Scopes trial, in 1925,” they wrote. “But why has the same match been fought, over and over, for the past 84 years? Why haven’t we moved beyond such counterproductive contentiousness?”

They go on to say that the presentation of science can create conflicts for people with different beliefs, yet scientists often present and discuss scientific phenomena without realizing or acknowledging that the ideas run counter to the worldviews of many Americans—their students included. In fact, “scientists and science professors may actually be exacerbating the many provocative debates around issues, like creation versus evolution, that have strong elements of both science and belief,” when they present information in traditional style lectures rather than putting the information in the context of society and students’ lives.

For example, in a cell-biology course where students identified religion as important to them, Eisen selected a paper for student presentation in which research identified incensole acetate as the active ingredient in incense, which has been burned around the world in religious rituals for thousands of years. The chemical lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive behavior in mice. The class discussed the cellular mechanisms as well as broader questions, such as how such research might lead to the development of new drugs, or whether in evolutionary history an individual's response to incense might correlate with religious behavior or belief, or increase the likelihood that a person would become a religious leader.

Eisen and Westmoreland conclude that “science professors should explicitly engage the rich social and ethical context of the subjects that they teach, engaging new generations of students in the science that so many now fear and reject. A careful, thoughtful approach to teaching the sensitive issue of evolution represents merely the beginning of a challenging, less-traveled-by path, but one that could, nevertheless, make all the difference.”

To view the entire commentary, visit http://chronicle.com.proxy.library.emory.edu/weekly/v55/i34/34a02301.htm


Reply to Comment by Sally Satel published in the Academic Exchange, April 2009
Michael J Kuhar, Candler Professor and Chief of the Neuroscience Division of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Professor of Pharmacology
April 27, 2009

Neuroscience [has not] resolved the core question of excessive appetite disorders in general, which is, "When is an impulse not resisted and when is it irresistible?" I don't know if we will ever be able to answer that, but we certainly haven't yet. The bottom line is that you can look at brains all day, but you would never call anyone an addict unless they acted like one. To me, that is key, and that's why if I were forced to define addiction-and we see the need to in a clinical setting-I would call it a behavioral syndrome or condition. The behavior is the point of entry for addiction. So why call it a chronic and relapsing brain disease? The chronic and relapsing part isn't even right most of the time. Clearly the biological changes are there . . . but still, why does that make it a brain disease just because the brain is involved? For the National Institute on Drug Abuse, that apparently is enough of a reason, and it's not wrong necessarily. My point is it's not salient to how we help patients.

—Sally Satel, Staff Psychiatrist, the Oasis Clinic, Washington, D.C., Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, from her talk at the Addiction, the Brain, and Society Conference, February 27, 2009, sponsored by the Rollins School of Public Health

The quote from Dr. Satel is from the conference “Addiction, the Brain, and Society” held at Emory on February 27, 2009. The excerpt presents an incomplete story, however, because it does not include the objections and comments made after her presentation at the meeting. Therefore I would like to add some comments to reflect that discussion.

First, Dr. Satel states that if she had to define addiction, she “would call it a behavioral syndrome.” She then questions why it might be termed “a chronic and relapsing brain disease.” But isn’t the brain the organ of behavior? If addiction is a behavioral disorder—and I have no objection to that—then it is also a brain disorder at some level. It seems that that can hardly be disputed.

My second point also centers on her question, “why call [addiction] a chronic and relapsing brain disease? The chronic and relapsing part isn’t even right most of the time.” Well, as a clinician who bases diagnoses on The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV, she is at least partly correct. A formal, clinical definition of dependence doesn’t require specific evidence of chronic and relapsing behavior. It only requires the satisfaction of three of seven criteria in the DSM IV in a given patient. But most of the criteria are in line or reasonably compatible with addiction being chronic and relapsing. At least this seems true to me. Also, most who use “chronic” and “relapsing” as key criteria for addiction would add additional phrases such as “in a social setting” or “using drugs in spite of negative consequences.”

Another of Dr. Satel’s statements that doesn’t ring totally true is that calling addiction (or defining it as) a chronic and relapsing brain disease (or disorder) “is not salient to how we help patients.” While treatment of addicts is not my expertise, informing the addict of the organic basis and characteristics of his or her disease cannot be bad. Isn’t it reasonable for the patient to know what he or she is up against? This knowledge can then be used as a framework for discussing treatment. The definitions of, for example, cancer or any other illness say nothing about helping patients either, but there is nothing wrong with having a definition. In fact, it is helpful.

Finally, saying that we “certainly haven’t” answered the core question of addiction seems irrelevant. We haven’t cured all cancers or many illnesses, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. I do, however, sincerely respect and praise Dr Satel’s focus on and enthusiasm for the patient.


David J. Bederman of Emory Law wins U.S. Supreme Court Case
April 22, 2009

A 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Ministry of Defense and Support for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran v. Elahi ruled in favor of the Iranian Ministry of Defense, represented by David J. Bederman, K.H. Gyr Professor of Private International Law at Emory.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals awarding $2.8 million in compensation to Darius Elahi for the murder of his brother in 1990. Elahi tried to collect the sum from a judgment obtained by the Iranian Ministry of Defense against Cubic Defense Systems, a California-based defense contractor. Iran was awarded $2.8 million after the defense contractor did not deliver an arms system in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

The Supreme Court ruled that Elahi’s prior acceptance of a payment of $2.4 million from the United States government precluded him from claiming money from the Cubic Defense Systems judgment under the conditions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002.

Bedermen’s legal team included Emory Law students Lauren Crisman, Michael Eber, Jennifer Fairbairn, Brian Spielman, and Robert Carroll. Students helped prepare briefs and oral arguments for the case. Emory faculty William W. Buzbee, professor of law; Thomas C. Arthur, L.Q.C. Lamar Professor of Law; Charles A. Shanor, professor of law; and Robert Shapiro, professor of law conducted a moot court in January to help Bederman strengthen his oral arguments.

“Speaking personally, I’m gratified with the decision and very appreciative of the assistance of everyone in the Emory Law community during the case,” says Bederman. “That includes faculty, colleagues, and my student team.”

Read the full Supreme Court decision at http://www.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/news/pdf/07-615-1.pdf


On Moral Implications of Darwinism
Martin J. Buss
April 19, 2009
As reported in AEWeekly on April 13, Professor Edward Larson discussed once more the moral implications of Darwinism. In response, I would like to point out a few relevant issues.

First of all, Darwin’s theory, at least as it is commonly taught, favors competitive struggle through its strong emphasis on natural selection. This emphasis was strengthened when Darwin argued in the third edition of Origin of the Species and thereafter that complexity tends to aid success in competition. The idea of complexity is important, since it is one of the few criteria, even though a vague one, by which to measure value. An implication of Darwin’s new argument, then, is that competitive struggle produces increasingly valuable entities and that it is therefore a “good” thing. This view had a prior history in economic thought, as Darwin knew, and has been used repeatedly to justify economic struggle, eugenics, and war.

Secondly, as has been pointed out, ethical problems have been a major reason for popular skepticism about evolutionary theory. It is true, this skepticism is often couched in terms of the authority of the Bible. But most people’s interest in the Bible is of a practical sort, and biblical ethics (if one may generalize) is quite clearly opposed to Darwinism, as that exists in the popular mind. On the non-popular level, a number of thinkers have avoided the conflict with ethics by suggesting that the struggle in which non-humans engage is not appropriate for human beings. However, such a contrast between human and non-human beings seems odd and is, in fact, not supported by recent studies of animal life.

Thirdly, an outlook that allows for cooperation along with competitive struggle was begun already by Darwin. This approach views cooperation within a group as useful for group survival and therefore to some extent also for the survival of its members. Such a view can support altruism within a group, but it still gives priority to overcoming others, for cooperation is seen as a means toward that end. In fact, in-group cohesion has been strongly emphasized by belligerent nations. In more or less moderate forms, an emphasis on group survival has recently, at least, been followed by many of those who accept evolutionary theory. However, there are doubts about the process of group selection.

Fourthly, another perspective is emerging within evolutionary theory, as documented in my study of The Concept of Form in the Twentieth Century, 2008. According to this perspective, cooperation by partially diverging items leads toward complexity, or—perhaps better—such cooperation represents the dynamic side of what we usually mean by “complexity.” If complexity is valued, the cooperation that constitutes it is then a good thing even without any contribution toward survival. In fact—this is a new and somewhat controversial point, contra Darwin’s third edition—various observations make it likely that complexity does not on the average increase survival, so that cooperation/complexity indeed needs to be valued, if at all, for its own sake, for it does not serve another end. Some have even argued that complexity tends to be unstable. Of course, complex beings need to be able to survive if they are to continue and struggle thus does take place, but simpler beings continue en mass. Cooperation/complexity then appears as the positive side of evolution and competition/elimination as its negative side, with neither one serving as a means for the other, although they may work together sometimes. In short, evolution has a mixed character.

A theoretical account of such a process is as follows. As was mentioned earlier, complexity involves the coordination of differentiated elements. This means that both differentiation and coordination are important for complexity. Accordingly, randomness—which has been emphasized in evolutionary theory and which implies a certain independence of entities—naturally leads toward complexity if there is also connectivity. The fact that there has been growth in the direction of complexity can be explained on the basis that cosmic history began in a simple way and that complex forms are usually built up stepwise. The same principle applies also on the physical level, where a combination of entropy (a technical term for randomness) and cooperation leads to complexity. The perspective that has been described then recognizes a combination of both partial independence and partial connectivity as the basis of historical process on all levels of existence—a combination that can be valued.

What conclusions can be drawn from these observations? Apart from being of sheer scientific interest, they allow for a constructive interaction between evolutionary theory and ethical consideration. This has two advantages. One is that success in competitive struggle no longer serves as the primary model and ideal within which the world is seen and that a cooperative process that combines partial independence with connectivity is preferred. Another advantage is that parts of the general public can more readily accept evolutionary theory and thus enter more fully into the intellectual world.


Brownley honored as Georgia “Humanities Hero”
April 16, 2009

Emory English professor Martine Watson Brownley has received the 2009 Governor's Award in the Humanities for her scholarship, outreach and advocacy of the liberal arts as the founding director of Emory's Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry (FCHI).

The Georgia Humanities Council honors "humanities heroes" of the state each year through presentation of the Governor's Awards to individuals and organizations who build community, character and citizenship in Georgia through public humanities education.

"I am very honored to receive this award, but it’s important to emphasize that Emory’s Fox Center is the result of the work of many, many people across the university and beyond: staff members, faculty, administrators, students, alumni and all of those who believe in the power of the humanities to shape lives," says Brownley. "Today, when our society tends to focus on the new, the pragmatic, the technological and the marketable, upholding the value of learning for its own sake, as the humanities do, is crucial to preserve and reinterpret the best of the past to keep it available for the future to use.

Brownley has served as director of the FCHI since it opened in 2002 as a residential research center for humanities scholarship with a mandate to coordinate interdisciplinary programming. Fellows from within Emory and across the nation have come to the center to work on their research. The center has become a focal point for humanities scholarship and events at Emory, and has provided significant programming for the public as well. As of May 2008, at the end of six years of operation, faculty fellows who had been in residence at the Fox Center had produced 29 books, 121 articles or book chapters, 136 conference papers and 19 dissertations.

A graduate of Agnes Scott College and Harvard University, Brownley is the Goodrich C. White Professor of English and holds faculty affiliations with Emory's comparative literature program and the women’s studies department, where she previously served as director. A specialist in eighteenth-century English literature, Brownley's current research interests include early modern English historiography and contemporary women novelists.

Recipients of the Governor's Awards in the Humanities are nominated by the public, reviewed by a committee of the Georgia Humanities Council Board, and selected ultimately by the current governor. Brownley will join nine other recipients at the 2009 Governor's Awards in the Humanities luncheon May 7.


John Howett, Professor of Art History, Emeritus, 1926–2009
April 13, 2009

John Howett, Professor Emeritus of Art History, died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 8, 2009. During his thirty-year career at Emory, Howett received the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award, the Award for Outstanding Teaching and Service to Undergraduate Students, and the 2002 Arts and Sciences Award of Distinction. Shortly before his death, Emory University announced that Howett would receive the 2009 Woolford B. Baker Award for lifelong service to the arts at Emory and to the Michael C. Carlos Museum, where a gallery is named in his honor.

Born in Kokomo, Indiana, Howett entered the army at eighteen and served with the U.S. Infantry in the Philippines and Japan during World War II. Getting a surprisingly high score on an army I.Q. exam encouraged him to think more seriously about his future. After his discharge in 1946, he traveled to France, where he was exposed for the first time to a vibrant intellectual and artistic culture. On his return, Howett entered the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana, earning a B.F.A. in 1953.

Howett's lifelong spiritual search led to a conversion to Catholicism while in art school, and, after graduation, to a year spent at the Trappist monastery of Gethsemane in Kentucky. In the years that followed, he began to consider a career teaching art history and applied to the University of Chicago. After completing a masters degree in 1962, and while working on his doctoral dissertation, Howett accepted a position as curator of the University of Notre Dame's art museum and professor of art history. A specialist in the art of the Italian Renaissance, he was then recruited by Emory in 1966 to help build its new program in art history.

Arriving in Atlanta at the height of the civil rights movement, he became active in anti-war and social justice efforts, at the same time completing work on his Ph.D. from Chicago. As an ardent supporter of Atlanta's burgeoning arts community, he curated exhibitions at Emory and the High Museum of Art and sought to nurture connections between local artists and currents of thought and practice developing elsewhere in the country.

Three of Howett's four daughters also work at Emory. Maeve Howett is an assistant professor in the School of Nursing; Catherine Howett Smith is associate director of the Carlos Museum; and Ciannat Howett is the director of Emory's sustainability initiatives.

A memorial service will be held at Cannon Chapel at Emory University on Wednesday, April 15, at 3:00 with a reception following at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, April 18, at 2:00 at Emory's Cannon Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the John Howett Works on Paper Fund at the Michael C. Carlos Museum or Veterans for Peace.


Podcast Class Lectures: Study Aid or Reason to Skip Class?
April 8, 2009

Podcasting is quickly becoming a regular accompaniment in college classes across the country, and Emory is no exception. Since officially launching in January, Emory’s iTunes U website has averaged about four hundred downloads per week, according to Emory’s Center for Interactive Teaching.

Woody Hickcox, a senior lecturer in environmental studies, began recording the audio of his lectures about three years ago and now podcasts every class. Students meet the rare occasion he forgets to turn on the recording with distressed exhalations. “They like having it as back-up. It makes them feel more secure about the learning process,” Hickcox says. Before the advent of iTunes U, he posted the audio files on Blackboard.

His early concerns that podcasting would lead to decreased class attendance never materialized. One deterrent is a weekly quiz; another is the looming possibility of a quiz on other days. “I haven’t noticed any difference in attendance. You’re concerned about it, but it’s just something you have to deal with,” he says. “If you’re going to do this, some kids probably won’t come to class if they can just listen to the podcast.”

Hickcox has also noticed a kind of bimodal class reaction to podcasting: students who aren’t all that strong to start with and miss classes regularly seem to use the podcasts as a fallback. They can, to a degree, but it doesn’t seem to help them when it comes to grades, he observes. At the other end of spectrum are top students who take good notes and turn to the podcasts for back-up, not a crutch. “They know where something is in a lecture, so they can use the podcasts very effectively.”

Sonja Kay Robb-Belville, a health educator in the School of Medicine, podcasts all of her classes on MRI procedures and physics. She targets two types of students. Both are pursuing a B.S. in medical science and medical imaging, but one group, mostly full-time students, can attend classes twice a week, while the other includes students who are working in the field as certified technologists and typically can’t come to campus.

“Student response has been tremendous,” she says. “Traditional students who attend class on campus like being able to go back and listen to the lectures again, and on-line students who don’t come to campus rave about how they feel as if they’re in the classroom. Students can listen to the lectures on any mp3 player, and the portability is fantastic.”

Some recent research at the State University of New York in Fredonia has indicated that video podcasting can be highly effective: college students who watched all of their lectures on podcasts may actually do better on the next exam than classmates who attended the lectures in person (the study did not examine audio-only podcasts). According to the study, students who used the podcast averaged 71 out of 100 on the follow-up test, whereas those who actually went to the lecture averaged 62. Those who took notes while watching the podcast scored even higher, an average of 77.

“It isn’t so much that you have a podcast, it’s what you do with it,” psychologist and lead author Dani McKinney told NewScientist, which reported on the study. “Some learn better by attending lectures in person, and others by watching them offline,” commented Stanford University computer science professor Andrew Ng in The Industry Standard. “Providing videos to students lets them pick whatever works best for them.”

To read more about the SUNY study, visit http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16624-itunes-university-better-than-the-real-thing.html.


Ph.D. Admissions Shrink at Some Schools, including Emory
April 1, 2009

A number of colleges, including Emory, are planning to admit fewer Ph.D. students for next fall’s semester than they did a year ago, according to an Inside Higher Ed report. Officials here have announced a 40 percent cut in the number of new Ph.D. students. Columbia, Brown, and the University of South Carolina are also cutting back.

Emory’s graduate program faces budget cuts of 13 percent, but must still meet its pledge of financial support to current students, who enrolled before the economic downturn. Administrators decided that sharply reducing the number of new admissions was the only way to meet the budget target.

Ulf Nilsson, a spokesperson for Emory's graduate school, told Inside Higher Ed that the enrollment should start going back up in subsequent years, even if funding remains flat. The cuts affect all programs, but Nilsson explained that some science programs are being cut by smaller percentages because they are able to “manipulate this on their own” since, science departments tend to have more access to funding from outside of the university to support graduate students.

The director of graduate studies in one Emory department, quoted anonymously in Inside Higher Ed, said that many there have been worried about the possible impact of the cuts, especially if enrollment does not return to normal quickly, but added that Emory officials have been reassuring that this policy is due to a quick need for a substantial budget cut and is not a shift in philosophy on the role of graduate education, and that enrollments will return to normal over time.

The article said also that “the economics of doctoral education are different enough from those of other programs that some universities’ doctoral classes will be taking a significant hit, with potential ramifications down the road for the academic job market, the availability of teaching assistants, and the education of new professors.” It went on to say that terminal master’s programs and professional school programs are generally being encouraged to fill their classes, because universities assume students will pay most or all of the costs.

To see the Inside Higher Ed article, visit http://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2009/03/30/phd

To see April 2009 issue of The Academic Exchange, which features a report on Emory and the economy, visit http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2009/apr/lead.html.


Nancy Eiesland, Associate Professor of Sociology and Disability Studies, 1964–2009
March 25, 2009

Nancy L. Eiesland, associate professor of sociology and disability studies at the Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion, died on March 10. She was forty-four years old.

Eiesland was a leader in disability studies and religion. Her pioneering work included articulating the first liberatory theology of disability. Her book The Disabled God which began as an M.Div. honors thesis at Candler, has become a classic in the field. Eiesland received her Ph.D. from Emory in 1995.

Much of Eiesland’s work on disability was informed by personal experience. She suffered from a congenital bone defect in her hips and required a wheelchair. By the time she was thirteen years old, she had had eleven operations. Many more were to follow. She died, however, of a possibly genetic type of lung cancer.

Other areas of her research focused on suburbanization and religious change in the United States, gender and religion, global trends in religion, and sociological and theological aspects of illness and disability. In another of her four books, A Particular Place, Eiesland studied congregations in a rapidly growing exurban area of Atlanta, exploring the ecology of social institutions and networks and showing how the role of congregations in people’s lives changes in new social conditions. The book established Eiesland as an authority in the sociology of religion and congregational studies.

Eiesland’s essay "Calming Calamity: Things I’ve Learned While I Couldn’t Do My Research," which appeared in the December 2008/January 2009 issue of the The Academic Exchange, examined the importance of the intellectual community she joined as a fellow of Emory’s Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life during her illness.

Eiesland taught classes in the social and cultural study of religion, gender, and disability; urban change and religious organization; and methods of qualitative research. She prepared a generation of students to enter the ministry and the academy with a deep awareness of the intricate social world embodied in each congregation. She also consulted with the United Nations for a decade, according to the New York Times, “helping to develop its Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, which was enacted last year.” The convention describes the disabled as “subjects” with rights, rather than “objects” of charity, and explicitly endorses spiritual rights for the disabled.


Doctoral Candidates Face Toughest Job Market in Years
March 17, 2009

Doctoral candidates seeking full-time faculty positions are facing dismal prospects, according to a New York Times article.

A survey by the American Historical Association, for example, found that the number of history departments recruiting new professors this year is down 15 percent, while the number of postings on the American Mathematical Society’s largest list of jobs has dropped more than 25 percent from last year.

Some job hunters have said that they may be up against hundreds of other applicants for a single position. In other cases, searches are simply canceled because funding for positions has dried up.

The Times article said that “public universities are bracing for severe cuts as state legislatures grapple with yawning deficits. At the same time, even the wealthiest private colleges have seen their endowments sink and donations slacken since the financial crisis. So a chill has set in at many higher education institutions, where partial or full-fledge hiring freezes have been imposed.”

Brian Croxall, a visiting assistant professor of English at Emory, attests to the formidable challenge of finding a job in academia. This year he’s applied for forty-six different academic positions, most of them are tenure-track jobs, and a few are postdoctoral programs and visiting professorships. Other than an interview last December at the Modern Language Association’s annual conference with a prominent Research I university, he’s come up empty.

The application count was even higher during his first run at the market that began in fall 2007, when Croxall was just beginning his final year in Emory’s doctoral program. That first round netted him two interviews at the MLA. Response letters often inform him that the school had received more than three hundred applications for a single position. One postdoctoral slot at Princeton drew more than five hundred responses, as did a tenure-track position at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

Croxall, who is thirty-one, has not yet resorted to a back-up plan. His stint at Emory runs through August, and he’ll continue to apply for teaching positions. But he’s considering a move toward humanities computing or academic computing because of his experience with applying technology to teaching. It may turn out to be a strategy change borne of necessity. “I have a family to support with a third child on the way, and I’m not sure I can stick it out at what you get paid at those temporary positions long enough to get a full-time position.”

“This is a year of no jobs,” Catherine Stimpson, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University told the Times. Ph.D.s are stacked up, she said, “like planes hovering over La Guardia.”

William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College in Michigan, who writes a column for The Chronicle of Higher Education under the name Thomas Benton, has frequently tried to dissuade undergraduates from pursuing a graduate degree in the humanities. And the recession, he predicts, will push universities to trim the number of tenure-track jobs further.

“It’s hard to tell young people that universities recognize that their idealism and energy — and lack of information — are an exploitable resource,” he wrote in a recent column. “If you cannot find a tenure-track position, your university will no longer court you; it will pretend you do not exist and will act as if your unemployability is entirely your fault.”

To see the complete article, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/arts/07grad.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=doctoral%20candidates&st=cse


Further fallout from psychiatrist’s outside activities
March 9, 2009

According to the February 26 Wall Street Journal, federal officials are investigating Emory to determine if the school misled the National Institutes of Health about the lucrative consulting work conducted by the prominent psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff for the pharmaceutical industry.

Nemeroff, a well-known researcher, has been a central figure in a federal investigation of whether drug company payments to doctors and academics skew research in favor of certain drugs. The NIH requires universities to report potential conflicts of interest to the agency and to ensure research is carried out objectively. Schools that violate those policies could face sanctions, ranging from fines to a freeze on funding.

In the latest development, the WSJ reported, investigators want to know if Emory failed to tell the NIH about Dr. Nemeroff’s conflicts of interest while he was investigating anti-depression drugs manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and whether the university may have misrepresented the kind of work he did for Glaxo when he served as a lead investigator on NIH-funded research.

The Emory Wheel reported that “Emory’s general counsel, Kent Alexander, said the university has not received word from the inspector general on whether any investigation would take place. He said the University was not aware of the Feb. 24 letter until a Wall Street Journal reporter contacted Emory about it earlier this week. Since then, Emory has begun taking a close look at past records relating to these new allegations.”

The Wheel article said also that the investigation may include Nemeroff’s consulting activities to gauge whether he fulfilled his required time commitments as chief investigator of multiple NIH research grants.

From 2003 until last year, Nemeroff served as primary investigator on an NIH-funded research effort to study five GlaxoSmithKline PLC drugs for use as antidepressants. During that time, Dr. Nemeroff also received $800,000 from Glaxo between for speeches he made to other medical professionals. Nemeroff also reportedly participated in a Glaxo program to aggressively promote Glaxo’s top-selling anti-depressant, Paxil.

An internal investigation by Emory in December found that Nemeroff had violated the university’s policies by not reporting his outside income from Glaxo. He was permanently removed as chairman of the psychiatry department and forbidden to participate in any NIH-sponsored research for at least two years. The NIH has frozen funds for a $9.3 million project on depression led by Nemeroff and has instituted tighter rules on approving grants for Emory. Emory has established a new central office to oversee enforcement of conflict of interest policies. Last year, Emory received $251 million in NIH grants last year, more than half of all the school’s outside research funding.

To see the complete WSJ article, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123562069194979361.html

To see the complete Wheel article, visit http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=26733


New Grant to Foster Integrity in Scholarship and Research
March 4, 2009

Research ethics and integrity will be the focus of a new program being developed at Emory Graduate School. The program is one of five projects nationwide to receive a Project for Scholarly Integrity grant as part of a federal initiative to advance the scope and quality of graduate education in the ethical and responsible conduct of research.

The grants were awarded by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), with funding from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity. Amid heightened concerns about academic research misconduct, CGS’s Project for Scholarly Integrity seeks to better inform students, researchers, and faculty about the ethical responsibilities and complexities of research in the twenty-first century.

One of the challenges in graduate education is to prepare students with the skills in ethical reasoning to deal with never-before-encountered situations, said Lisa Tedesco, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for academic affairs.

“We have responsibilities to educate our doctoral students in the most up-to-date ways about the complexities in their research environment,” said Tedesco. “Our program will seek to harness the critical thinking and analysis skills that they use every day in their research to engage more deeply into research ethics and the responsible conduct of research.”

She added that critical reflection will be a major component of the program, including learning various “approaches to asking challenging questions and getting people comfortable with those difficult conversations.”

Since evidence suggests that many students fear judgment in addressing ethical problems in research, the Graduate School’s process-oriented program seeks to build contexts in which ethical dilemmas can be candidly discussed. The program will focus on a student’s development as a responsible researcher, supporting that development with three distinct goals:

  • Program integration: Education in research ethics and integrity must be integrated into the curriculum of the student’s program.

  • Skills of critical reflection: Students need time and space to practice thinking through complicated problems of professional integrity.

  • Knowledge of research principles: Students should be acquainted with rules and principles established by the law, professional codes of ethics, and best practices in the discipline.

For more information: http://www.graduateschool.emory.edu/about/announcements.php?entity_id=10


Top Dog: Emory Faculty Examine Slumdog Millionaire
March 2, 2009

Emory professors, like the rest of the world, have lots to say about the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, which won eight Oscars, including “Best Picture” and “Best Director” for Danny Boyle, at last week’s Academy Awards.

Paul Courtright, Emory professor of religion, explores the religious terrain of the film in a recent article for online magazine Religion Dispatches. He argues that while the main characters mostly are Muslim, the film does not offer an Islamic vision of divine mercy, evoking instead the Hindu idea of lila, or divine play. The rags-to-riches element captivating audiences around the world appears in Hindu literature, where devotees overcome adversity through devotion to a deity. Accordingly, Courtright tells the Academic Exchange, “[Protagonist Jamal’s] devotion to [love interest Latika] echoes a Sufi and Hindu bhakti devotion to the beloved, a devotion that makes it possible to embrace the terrors and losses of life and ride serenely over its triumphs.”

Not everyone has been eager to mine Slumdog for its rich scholarly potential. Emory’s Distinguished Writer in Residence Salman Rushdie is one of the more vocal critics. Speaking at Emory on Oscar night, Rushdie argued that the film “piles impossibility on impossibility,” its characters thrust in increasingly unbelievable scenarios, ultimately leading Jamal to the answers on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Of Rushdie’s critique, Courtright says, “Stranger twists of fate have animated some of the characters in [Rushdie’s] own fiction.”

What about other charges against Slumdog, mainly its representations of poverty in India? Courtright notes that the situation is not unique: “The slums and corruption are a part of India. . . . But slums and corruption are everywhere; poverty and organized crime are artifacts of robust global capitalism.”

Deepika Bahri, associate professor of English at Emory, also reads the film in relation to globalization and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s work on the phenomenon: “[Slumdog Millionaire] tells us that the world is flat. . . . Hot, flat, and crowded, which incidentally is the title of . . . Friedman’s sequel to The World is Flat. Hot, flat, crowded, sort of like Bombay.” Courtright echoes Bahri’s analysis: “While the film takes place in India, it has a Global Everywhere/Everyman quality to it.”

In this narrative of globalization, Bahri adds, “I want [Jamal] to win, to escape his third worldliness and save his lover Latika.” Jamal represents hope in the globalized landscape for Courtright too, and he wants those criticizing the film for voyeurism of India’s underclass to see that too: “Beyond the first gaze of the slums, we see a brighter vision of the indomitable spirit that has emerged as a marker of Mumbai, despite the squalor, riots, terrorists. . . . Mumbai is the postmodern, postcolonial dystopic landscape, and people find ways to stand it, make it work, endure it, even celebrate it. That is the larger message of the film; I hope Indians feel a well-deserved pride in that message.”

But Bahri cautions against seeing the film as a faithful representation of Indian life: “This is not a movie you watch to learn about street children in Bombay. For a good, hard look at that, no one does it better than Mira Nair in Salaam Bombay!” Instead, Bahri argues that the film is pure fantasy: “There are no images of the third world, only mirror images of our own interest and desire.”

Arguments about religion, globalization, hope, and fantasy aside, Rushdie remains doggedly unconvinced. He suggests there is unvoiced discontent amid the fanfare that accompanies Slumdog Millionaire: “More people don’t like it, but they just aren’t willing to admit it.”

Click here for Paul Courtright article “Life as a Game Show: Reading Slumdog Millionaire” in Religion Dispatches.

Click here for the Emory Report article on Salman Rushdie’s lecture, “Adaptation”


Emory officials near top of salary rankings
February 24, 2009

A survey of compensation packages at private colleges conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that three of Emory’s top administrators were among the highest paid in the country in the 2006-07 fiscal year.

A further analysis by the Chronicle listed the highest paid employees other than chief executives; the ten highest- paid financial officers; and the ten highest-paid academic officers. Only Emory and Vanderbilt were represented in all three lists.

Emory Chancellor Mike Johns earned $3.75 million in the 2007 fiscal year (the year he stepped down from the position of executive vice president for health affairs, chief executive officer of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and chairman of Emory Healthcare), making him the third highest-paid private university employee, other than chief executives. According to the Emory Wheel (February 24, 2009), the Emory communications office explained that $3.4 million of that compensation came from a long-term retention award and a one-time deferred payment that accrued over the eleven years that Johns served in his former posts. It is money that amasses yearly but is not paid immediately and can be forfeited it an employee leaves a position before a certain date.

Mike Mandl, Emory’s executive vice president for finance and administration, earned $666,300 for fiscal year 2007, ranking him fourth among chief financial officers. Earl Lewis, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, earned $536,540, putting him ninth on the list of chief academic officers. A statement released yesterday by the Board of Trustees clarifies that $105,270 of Mandl’s compensation package is the combined value of benefits and deferred payment, as is $94,170 of Lewis’s package.

The Chronicle survey included compensation packages of more than 4,000 employees at nearly 600 private colleges. It found that of the eighty-eight private college employees who made $1 million or more in the 2007 fiscal year, only eleven were chief executives. A survey released by the Chronicle in November listed Emory President Jim Wagner as the eleventh highest paid university presidents in fiscal year 2007, with a compensation package of $1,040,420.

The two highest paid non-chief-executive higher education employees in the country were the football coach at the University of Southern California ($4,415,714, about four times as much as the president of the university), and a clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University ($4,332,759, compared with $1,411,894 for the president of the university).

Jeff Selingo, editor of the Chronicle, told the New York Times, “There are a lot of different spheres of influence throughout a university, and since medical schools and some specialties within them generate so much revenue, it’s not surprising that compensation reflects that. Chief financial officers are highly paid because they are generally people who could get a job at a Fortune 500 company. What’s actually most interesting to me is that chief academic officers are getting so much. I think what’s happening is that they’re becoming the ones running the university day to day, as presidents are increasingly away from campus, talking to donors or traveling overseas to set up partnerships.”

Click here to see the Chronicle article.

Click here to see the New York Times article.

Click here to see the Emory Wheel article.


Faculty on Facebook
February 19, 2009

Pamela Scully, associate professor of women’s studies, has about forty friends on Facebook, the phenomenally successfully social networking Website. Not one of them is a current student of hers, and that’s a boundary she faithfully preserves.

“I would not advocate that faculty be friends with their students on Facebook,” Scully said. “It’s just better to keep those social lives separate. It’s an issue of power: “If you’re in a position where you have some control over someone, you shouldn’t be their Facebook friend.”

Scully said she’s gotten a number of requests from students to become Facebook friends. Her response: I would love to be Facebook friends, but contact me after you graduate. “I explain to them I don’t want to see a picture of them at a party doing something I’d rather not see or they would later be embarrassed about, so it would be much better if you waited to be my friend.” After graduation, it’s a different story, and Scully finds the Website ideal for keeping up with some former students.

Scully signed onto Facebook about fifteen months ago because her twin sister in New Zealand wanted to show her some pictures. Her sister promptly stopped using Facebook because she found it too invasive. The half of the set in Atlanta, though, admits to being “fully addicted.”

“I have so many family and friends in so many different time zones,” Scully said. “Facebook allows me to live in a whole world that transcends national boundaries.” She also says that her Facebook friends are “people whom I actually know and want to be in touch with,” which explains her relatively low friend count.

Laurie Patton, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Religion, tunes into Facebook a couple times a week, exclusively for social reasons, and she does have students who are Facebook friends. “I just don’t put up any highly personal information on my Facebook page,” she said. “I don’t use it very much professionally. If I did, I’d have five places on the Web that are professionally oriented. That’s too many.”

Are you on Facebook? Are your students your "friends"? Email the Academic Exchange and let us know your thoughts.


Controversial Ex-Emory Professor Wins Settlement with State
February 9, 2009

According to WSB television in Atlanta, the state of Georgia has paid $1.2 million to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who had accused Georgia Tech of backing out of a deal to hire him as a dean more than a decade ago.

In 1997, Sonnenfeld, who is currently a management professor and dean at Yale, was a popular and well-known professor in Emory’s Goizueta Business School and a successful fundraiser due to his strong connections with the business community. Georgia Tech offered him the position of dean of its College of Management for a salary of $200,000.

But shortly before he was to make the move, the Emory administration alleged that he had vandalized property. Sonnenfeld resigned under pressure, and Georgia Tech withdrew its offer. Sonnenfeld sued Emory for defamation of character and the Georgia Board of Regents for breach of contract. His suit against Emory was settled in 2000 for an undisclosed amount. Details of the settlement with the state, beyond the amount of the award, are still “cloaked in secrecy,” according to WSB.

Emory said that hidden security video cameras had caught Sonnenfeld vandalizing Emory property, but Sonnenfeld and his supporters made the case that the videos didn’t show anything conclusive, and Emory withstood a great deal of criticism over the affair, including charges that administrators had purposely tried to derail his hire at Georgia Tech. The Byzantine story ended up on an episode of 60 Minutes.

To see the WSB news story, visit http://www.wsbtv.com/video/18473877/index.html


Nationwide, College Endowment Losses Are Highest Since 1970s
January 30, 2009

The value of university endowments has suffered the worst drop since the 1970s, according to two recent reports. In an article about the findings, the New York Times reported that endowment values fell about 23 percent on average in the five months ending November 30. The declines are the largest since the mid-1970s, according to John S. Griswold Jr., executive director of the Commonfund Institute, which manages money for educational institutions and other nonprofits.

“It’s been very sudden in some ways,” Griswold told the Times. “There were people predicting the decline a year ago or more, but I don’t think anyone could claim to see the extent of this. These are unprecedented numbers.” The declines have forced colleges and university nationwide to contemplate wage freezes, layoffs, and halting construction projects.

According to Emory’s administration, the endowment and investment portfolio fell about 20 percent for the 2008 calendar year, resulting in a reduction of about $50 million in annual revenue. An additional $10 million reduction has resulted from declining interest rates. The university’s overall budget is projected to grow approximately 1.6 percent next year, compared with 6-8 percent increases that have typified recent years. Budgets will remain flat or be reduced in most administrative units.

The reports cited in the Times were prepared for the National Association of College and University Business Officers by the financial services company TIAA-CREF and the Commonfund Institute. They drew on data from 796 institutions for the 2008 fiscal year, which ended June 30, and on additional statistics from a follow-up survey with 435 for the period from July 1 to Nov. 30. The studies found that while endowments gained in value by about 0.5 percent in the old fiscal year, they lost nearly a quarter of their worth in the subsequent five months as financial markets sank.

Endowments worth more than $1 billion were found to have lost an average of 20 percent, while those of $500 million to $1 billion declined about 25 percent. Public institutions lost an average of 24 percent, private institutions 22 percent.

Cornell faces a 10 percent budget shortfall for the current fiscal year because of a 27 percent decline in its endowment over the last six months. Syracuse University has already announced layoffs, and Dartmouth, whose endowment lost 18 percent of its value from July 1 to December 31, has said they are inevitable.

Sixty percent of the institutions responding to the follow-up survey said they did not expect to change the amount they draw from their endowments in the current fiscal year. Griswold thinks that wise.

“People aren’t making snap decisions, decisions that seem based on a panic reaction,” he said. “That’s terrific. They should keep a steady hand on the helm.” To see the entire article, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/education/27college.html?scp=1&sq=endowments&st=cse


Professor Frank Pajares Passes
January 23, 2009

M. Frank Pajares, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Education in the Division of Educational Studies and in the Department of Psychology, died Wednesday, Jan. 14. Following the wishes of Pajares and his family, no memorial service will be held.

"No one loves teaching more than I do,” Pajares was quoted as saying in an April 2007 Emory Report profile. According to the article, "his distinguished career as an educator has taken him around the world. Pajares has been a middle school teacher in Florida, a professor at the University of Florida and a principal of an international school in Tehran, Iran. When the unrest and riots of the Islamic Revolution led to the school’s closing, Pajares returned to his native Spain to serve as headmaster and later director of the American International School on the island of Mallorca."

Pajares was a recipient of Emory’s most prestigious recognition for teaching, the Emory Williams Award for Distinguished Teaching, as well as recognition for excellence in teaching from the Emory Scholars Program, the Crystal Apple Award and others.

The author of five books, Pajares's most recent book was Self-Efficacy Beliefs of Adolescents (2006).

If individuals wish to make contributions in his memory, Pajares’ favorite charities were Save the Children, UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Doctors without Borders, said DES chair Robert Jensen.

To read the full Emory Report profile, visit http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/erarchive/2007/April/April%202/Profile.htm


King Papers Go Public
January 16, 2009

For the first time, a major portion of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers are publicly accessible, allowing scholars and casual researchers to obtain a wealth of documents related to civil rights history.

The documents became available January 13 at the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. They represent more than 75 percent of a 10,000-item collection bought by a group of civic and business leaders in 2006 from King’s family for $32 million.

King scholar Clayborne Carson, founding director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, has been named executive director of the papers and distinguished professor at Morehouse College. Morehouse College, King’s undergraduate alma mater, is custodian of the collection.

The Morehouse King collection includes the personal library and many of original manuscripts, writings, and sermons of Dr. King from 1946 to 1968. About seven thousand pieces are handwritten by King, including an early draft of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and nearly one hundred sermons, some of which never have been published.

“The religious documents are the ones that have not been available to scholars,” Carson told the Journal Constitution. He said he has spent the last twenty years trying to make King materials available for future generations. “This is a major step forward,” he said. “At the end of this process, it will be a lot easier for researchers to do their work.”

The Woodruff Library papers are one of three major King collections. Others are at the King Center in Atlanta, and at Boston University, where King received his doctorate in systematic theology. King donated a collection to the university in 1964.

The collection will be made available through secure dedicated computer stations located in the Archives and Special Collections Department of the library. Books located only in the collection can be obtained through the collection’s staff from 1:00-5:00 pm Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit http://www.auctr.edu/mlkcollection/.


Ethics Center Director on 60 Minutes
January 6, 2009

Paul Root Wolpe, director of Emory’s Center for Ethics, discussed the ethical ramifications of using MRIs to “read” people’s thoughts on the January 4 airing of 60 Minutes.

“I always tell my students that there is no science fiction anymore. All the science fiction I read in high school, we're doing,” Wolpe told reporter Lesley Stahl.

He was referring to the use of MRI linked with computers to recognize patterns in the brain that allow researchers to accurately identify simple thoughts a person is having in real time.

In one demonstration, a subject was shown a series of ten simple drawings (a screwdriver, a castle, etc) while undergoing an MRI and asked to think briefly about each one. The researchers then asked the computer to tell them which objects the subject had thought about. The machine got it right 100 percent of the time.

Experts warn that the technology is still unproven and won’t be a practical for more complicated tasks for some time to come—if ever. Suggested applications of the include lie detection, tracking where a person has been by comparing a person’s memory patterns to images of known places, and recognizing someone’s product preferences.

But the technology also raises important ethical issues. “The right to keep one’s thoughts locked up in their brain is amongst the most fundamental rights of being human,” Wolpe said. “I have two teenage daughters. I come home one day and my car is dented and both of them say they didn’t do it. Am I going to be allowed to drag them off to the local brain imaging lie detection company and get them put in a scanner? We don't know.”

In one chilling example, last year a woman in India was convicted of murder after an EEG of her brain allegedly revealed that she was familiar with the circumstances surrounding the poisoning of her ex-fiancé.

To see the entire 60 Minutes segment, visit http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4697682n

To read an AE interview with Wolpe on clinical ethics, visit the December 08/January 09 issue.